Muslim Student Association fast donates to Utica

By Kaitlin McCabe '16

The Hamilton Muslim Student Association’s annual Fast-O-Thon, which took place on Wednesday, October 24th, is more than just a day-long event directed towards increasing understanding of Islamic traditions and beliefs.
On this day, Shakil Hossain  ’14, a co-president of MSA, insisted, “[Hamilton students and faculty are] fasting for a purpose; not just to do it.” 

Specifically, participants in the event fast with the purpose of raising money for charity.  This year, the Fast-O-Thon raised over $1,500 in addition to extra donations, all of which will be donated to the Mohawk Valley refugee center on Genesee Street in an effort to, as Hossain said, “bring the community together…Fasting just bonds everyone together.  [After you participate in the fast, you] know how it is to be hungry all day… no one will ever question your commitment.”

The MSA’s fundraiser has been an event on campus for six years. Started by Abdelwahab M. Abdelghany ’10, the founder of the club, the fast encourages awareness of the Islamic culture and increase tolerance.

Hossain commented, “Muslims are on campus...the media can sometimes [portray us in a negative way].”

While the fundraiser certainly seeks to build an understanding school community, the Fast-O-Thon most importantly raises funds for relief organizations assisting victims of the Japanese Earthquake and of the Somalian drought.  This humanitarian effort has been supported since its creation by Hamilton’s dining service, Bon Appetit.  The company donates five dollars in the name of each student that participates.

This year, over 250 students and 20 faculty members, in addition to community members from the local mosques, participated in the Hamilton Fast-O-Thon. Participation in the fundraiser required those individuals involved to abstain from eating and drinking until 6 p.m. on the evening of Oct. 23. In other words, students were challenged to skip swiping into Hamilton dining services for breakfast and lunch.

“I’ve never actually fasted before,” Caroline Harrington ’16 said. “It was a new experience.” 

Annie Emanuels ’16 agreed with her classmate adding, “It was harder than I expected, but it’s very rewarding.” 
The extreme pride students felt after completing such a demanding challenge was clearly equal to their levels of hunger.  As students gathered in the Annex to break their fast, they were tantalized by the delicious Indian appetizers placed on tables before them—which they could not eat until 6 p.m. exactly.

Sarah Graves ’16 expressed the views of the entire room as she exclaimed, “I’m very excited to eat this food right now!” 
Brendan Doherty ’13 of MSA, both humorously and seriously, commented, “The fast focuses your mind on abstaining from things… But all I’ve done is think about food.”

The MSA dinner, which was catered by Clinton’s Indian Café, began with an introduction by co-president of the organization, Christopher Delacruz ’13,  during which he praised its welcoming, accepting nature.
“I’ve always felt very loved and appreciated by MSA,” he said, “I can only hope you get to experience the organization the same way I did.”

The group then engaged in a five minute period of prayer.  As Hossain began his recitation of the Islamic prayer, the entire Annex became silent in reverence and awe for the Muslim tradition.  As the formal commencement of the prayer ended, the famished participants were invited to end their fast by taking heaps of food from the Indian buffet—an opportunity no one in the room could possibly turn down. 

What the Fast-O-Thons participates lost in meals, however, they certainly gained in awareness and understanding for the Islamic way of life.  Dyllon Young ’15 commented, “I definitely commend all the Muslim people that do this daily for an entire month!”  In agreement, Bennet Glace ’16 added, “It’s all for a good cause…[and] I do believe that I have a greater understanding of Islamic culture now.  I’m glad I did this.”

Though the Hamilton Fast-O-Thon only takes place once a year, it is clear from the strong reactions of the student body that the lessons learned through the experience will last year round.

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